The budgetary problems at the State level in California have had, and will have, far-reaching effects on all aspects of public service, from dog-catchers all the way up to the Governor's office. The shrinking American economy is being expressed through the decline in tax revenue at federal, state and local levels, throughout the country. This isn't the fault, in California, of Proposition 13, or irresponsible legislators spending more than they should, though these problems are exacerbating an already precarious financial footing in government. The services which our prosperity funded throughout the so-called "post-War period" can no longer be supported to the degree we've come to expect. Government revenue, expressed as a percentage of our national GDP, will decline in the years ahead, and there is little will at any level of government to address the root causes of this decline.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Follow the Money - The New Aggressive Enforcement
As our public services face declining support, some will cut services, others will simply be eliminated, while others will look for ways to make up the shortfall.
As anyone who drives in our State has noticed, over the last six months, there has been a dramatic change in the way the State Highway Patrol, and local police departments have been enforcing traffic control. I don't know if there are any statistics available, yet, to measure how big this difference is, but there is no question that the word is out on our roads and highways: They've taken the gloves off and are ticketing at a furious rate. On any given day, driving down a typical suburban or urban thoroughfare, you're likely to see two squad cars tooling along on the same block, or to see someone pulled over with the Christmas lights flashing. Arrests are on a steep incline.
This is no doubt the result of a mandate across departments throughout the state that revenue is down, and whatever potential untapped sources of income there are, need to be milked to the maximum.
All this flurry of patrolling and ticketing raises the obvious question: Where were all these officers before? Hanging out at the donut shop?
It's simply another reminder that police "protection" is all about money.
Ever tried reporting a robbery in progress, or some other "emergency" via the 911 line? What you typically get, nowadays, is "well, we can't respond right now, maybe an officer can be there in 25 minutes...there really isn't anything we can do...if you wish to file a police report, you can come down to the station." Police are just too busy to fight crime. Why? Because there's no money in it.
I've often thought that if there were no fines to accompany citations for driving infractions or parking spaces, police would never bother. And it's true: Police follow the money.
Tracking down drug dealers, responding to crimes in progress, conducting thorough investigations--these kinds of enforcement don't produce income, hence they aren't priorities to police departments.
It's no fun fighting crime. It's dangerous, hard work, and it makes officers cranky and frustrated. How much more productive and self-serving for them to pull suburban housewives over and hit them with $300 fines for driving 28 mph along a neighborhood street!
I never had illusions about the police. They're unpleasant people doing an unpleasant job, and their priorities were always about money, not safety or property.
That's never been any more obvious than now, as they hustle to make up the budget shortfalls on the backs of hapless drivers.
It's all about following the money.